Once a pariah in certain quarters, Sinead O’Connor was firmly proven, over the years, to be consistently ahead of her time.
Her passing last week in London came as a numbing shock to a music scene now laden firmly with love for the woman who was, in the best possible way, a law unto herself and herself alone, and, with her finger often firmly on the nub of society’s issues, a staunch symbol of Irish feminism. All that, of course, is before you get to her sublime, poignant, and vocally exceptional music.
One tweet in particular reminded us to celebrate O’Connor’s sense of humour, posting pictures of the singer in disguise at an anti-Sinead O’Connor protest, a punchy tribute to the way the singer engaged with society. Others were more angry, with Morrissey arguing amid the tributes “You hadn’t the guts to support her when she was alive and she was looking for you.”
Laura Whitmore posted a poignant tribute, saying “As an Irish woman growing up in the 90s, she was everything, showing girls were cool, Irish women could be recognised globally, and shaved heads are not just for guys – though not a look I could carry off. My mam told everyone who visited Sinead lived on our road – she was our royalty.”
Others pointed to O’Connor’s finest musical moments, from that Prince cover she made her own to the point that it is the only version most people now remember, to, more recently, a remarkable lockdown cover of Snow Patrol hit ‘Run’, or what was to be her last solo single, ‘Trouble of the World’, back in 2020. From gathering before her picture in Temple Bar, to public, heartfelt mourning online, there’s no question that Sinead has left behind quite the legacy.
Billy Bragg nicely summed it all up: “Sinead O’Connor was braver than brave. May she rest in peace.”
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